ELMO - The Elmo Fire which has forced evacuations, closed roads and destroyed several homes has grown from 18,427 acres to 20,616 acres.
Fire managers report the blaze is 6% contained as it burns west of Elmo.
Lake County Sheriff Don Bell confirmed with MTN News on Wednesday that five homes and a total of eight structures have been lost to the blaze. A total of 150 residences remain under evacuation orders in the Lake Mary Ronan area. An additional 100 residences in the Dayton area are under a pre-evacuation warning.
Law enforcement is maintaining roadblocks as the mandatory evacuations continue south of Lake Mary Ronan Road from the intersections of Camp Tuffit Road to US Highway 93 and west of Highway 93 from Lake Mary Ronan Road to Chief Cliff Lane.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office is asking that residents who have not yet evacuated from Lake Mary Ronan Road — and along the perimeter of Lake Mary Ronan — to do so. Officials note there is the potential for spotting over Lake Mary Ronan Road that may make it difficult for people to leave the area.
The pre-evacuation warnings remain in effect for residences north of Lake Mary Ronan Road and residences east and south of Highway 93 between intersections with Montana Highway 28 and Lake Mary Ronan Road.
The Montana Red Cross is operating evacuation centers at Polson High School and Somers Middle School. Additional information can be found by calling 1-800-272-6668.
- PHOTO GALLERY: Elmo Fire
A public meeting to discuss the Elmo Fire will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Elmo Pow Wow Grounds.
The Thursday morning update notes that active fire behavior with aggressive fire spread is expected in exposed areas of timber fuels on moderate and steep slopes as well as some short-range spotting.
The Elmo Fire started on July 29, off of Montana Highway 28 around mile marker 39, west of Elmo. The blaze started in grass and made its way into the timber north of Highway 28.
There are 439 people assigned to the Elmo Fire which is being overseen by a Type II Incident Management Team is in charge of fighting the blaze.
The CSKT Division of Fire has announced that all lands on the Flathead Indian Reservation will move into Stage I fire restrictions beginning on Friday morning.